To the Editor: No fair-minded human being who is not visually impaired could reasonably disagree with the verdict of "guilty" for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. The 9-minute, 29-second video speaks for itself, and the eyewitness testimony, police-training testimony, and medical-expert testimony all reinforced the criminality and causation in Floyd's death.
The hero in this case is Darnella Frazier, who took the video. Her public service, witnessed not only in the USA but all around the world, will have a positive and hopefully lasting effect on policing in our nation. I just hope the lessons will be better selection of police candidates, continued breaking of the "blue wall of silence" for police misconduct, better police training and the continued emphasis on the public-service part of policing.
I hope we do not make the disastrous, politically motivated mistake of defunding the police, or the ludicrous and radical proposition of eliminating the police as we have it, and creating completely new police agencies that are subject to the ideas and rules of political and social leaders who distrust or hate all police officers.
However, if we look strictly at the legal defense of Derek Chauvin, there is one shocking legal-strategy error that has been ignored by most criminal-defense attorneys. That is, the failure to have Chauvin take the witness stand in his own defense.
After the video made Chauvin look like he wanted to kill George Floyd, his attorney, Eric Nelson, should have put Chauvin on the stand to try to humanize him, to explain that he never intended to kill George Floyd. Regardless of the withering cross-examination that was sure to happen, Chauvin had to make himself sound like he made a terrible mistake and was not a murderer.
Prominent defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, who was Michael Jackson's attorney, is the only attorney whom I have heard state publicly that in this case Chauvin absolutely should have taken the witness stand. I have no doubt that Chauvin will claim that he got terrible advice from his attorney, Eric Nelson, and will try to use it on appeal.
MICHAEL J. GORMAN
Editor's note: Mr. Gorman is a retired NYPD Lieutenant and an attorney.
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